Camping With The Bureau of Reclamation
Put this on your list of “Uses for a National Park Senior Pass you might not have thought of”: overnighting at a US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) campground.
Before we get into that, let’s sort out some concepts. The USBR is a federal agency that builds water management facilities like dams. In the process, it has created reservoirs that are popular recreation destinations, but also wildlife refuges, and wild and scenic areas downstream. USBR projects are in the western US.
Partnerships with other agencies
Very often, the public interface involves partnerships with federal agencies like the National Park Service, BLM, USFS, and US Fish & Wildlife. National Recreation Areas like Lake Mead and Lake Meredith are in this category.
However, “very often” doesn’t mean always. Sometimes, facilities are managed by the Bureau of Reclamation itself. And, yeppers, they are covered by National Park Senior Pass specifications.
Camping at the pass rate of 50% discount. Yahoo!
Put Bureau of Reclamation campground on your road trip schedule
So, consider an overnight or two or three at a USBR campground. Not sure where they are? (This does, indeed, take some digging). Consult the Ultimate Public Campground Project App (filtering for Bureau of Reclamation) and Review: Ultimate Public Campground Project, Amarillo to El Paso. Then Google up for details.
Not sure that would be fun?
USBR reservoirs tend to be favorites of motorized boat owners, but also primo for fishing.
But perhaps you’re not absolutely 100% positive you could look forward to the noisy kind of fun that is common on a large body of water? Take a look at Lake Berryessa near Napa in Northern California. Yes, it has speed boats aplenty and campgrounds, but it also has a nearby, brand new (2015), wowee National Monument.
Yes, that’s the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. Perhaps a wildflower visit?
Did we mention exercise? Perfect. A little footwork, a smidge of poppy sniffing…
2017: update on camping at Lake Berryessa: federal campgrounds are contracted to a private concessionaire, and campsites are prohibitive for DCMB low-budgeters (e.g. $36 per night).
2017: the recommendation to visit Berryessa NM still stands. The current US administration is threatening to privatize this Park.
Information provided to the best of my knowledge. Please verify facility details with the relevant Federal Agency. If you can contribute observations, you are enthusiastically encouraged to write them in the comments below.
Photo credits. Featured image and top… Jackson Lake Dam WY: CC BY-SA 2.0 by USBR via Flickr. Iron Horse Campground, New Melones Lake CA: USBR. Berryessa Snow National Monument: Public Domain by Bob Wick, BLM, via Wikimedia Commons.